March 24, 2016
Call Me An Infidel: A Hijabed Non-Believer Story

From a religious childhood, she grew to become disillusioned with her religion and reached a point of no return.

by Anggi
Issues // Politics and Society
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I'm a 19-year-old girl who lives with an agnostic dad and a devout Muslim mom.

I'm somewhat in between, but when I was young until around high school I hated the fact that my dad was agnostic. At the time I thought he was totally wrong and as his daughter, I had a responsibility to make him a  believer again (just as what Mom said).

As an obedient child, I was crazy in love with God; I would sacrifice everything to please him. I decided to wear hijab as my way to express my moral commitment to the religion and I proudly told people to do so.

But my religious devotion did not make me close my mind to other things. I liked to read philosophy and history. I was developing my mind and I tried to stay critical of everything. As time passed my young, innocent and naive self was transforming into a curious person who was growing skeptical and cynical towards religion. One morning I woke up at around 4 AM to perform the dawn prayers, and in silence I felt a sense of emptiness.

"What am I doing?" I thought.




It didn't just happen for no reason. A few days before that I had been questioning why I should pray, why I should adhere to something I could not see, why I should believe in something that is not logical. And then I figured out that the thing that made me still worship God was not purely faith, but rather my fear of the punishment – of hell. Hell seems a more potent and obvious fright to me than God himself.

These thoughts occupied me days and nights. I cried a lot, even when in public places like in campus or on the street. It made me suicidal. In my first semester in college I took a walk around the city and didn't come home to the dorm. I cried, screamed and yelled at God, asking him why he let me lose faith on him. I received no answer of course. I tried to kill myself using Paracetamol and Coke – and failed. It was the stupidest suicide attempt I've ever done and I promised I'd do better next time.

In the end I felt exhausted and decided to stop questioning. I tried to live like a normal teenager. At the same time, I hid the fact that I was a half non-believer. I still performed the prayers five times a day and prayed that he would never let me lose faith on him. But the more I asked him to guide me, the more I got lost without something to rely on. This time, however, I could handle my emotions better and pretended as if nothing was wrong.

It wasn’t easy to tell people about my difficult, lonely and miserable journey. Some people may label me an atheist, agnostic or infidel, but although I was skeptical of religion, I still sometimes worship God when I felt joyful or even when I was busy.

And then there’s the family factor. I fear seeing the disappointment in my mom’s face if she found out I was the same as my dad. So whenever I came home for holidays, I pretended to be a religious person for her and everybody else’s benefit. This way I wouldn’t have to deal with morality police and their judgment of me.

In recent months, however, I have grown weary of the hypocrites around me. I think about all the conflicts, discriminations, and wars caused by religion. In addition, I also hate the fact that religion often does not recognize individual freedoms and rights and is a cause of inequalities in life.  

My transformation has gotten me into some problems.  I have begun to argue with my mom a lot lately over various things, such as my decision not to get married or have a child, and to separate religion from my daily concerns. Usually during these arguments, I gave in, but this only made me hate her more for being close-minded and controlling of my life.

Unfortunately, I’m still financially dependent on her, but I can’t wait until I get bachelor’s degree. It has becoming harder to be with someone who tells me what to do with my life and my body anymore.

The fact that I’m not like other people my age is a problem too. On social media I often post my opinion on religions. There was a time when I was reading the book History of God in class, people started to call me an atheist for over a month.  But I never felt the need to justify myself to other people and just choose to keep a distance from them.

Some people wonder why I still even wear hijab after all this time and if only they knew, they might find my reason ridiculous. It’s because I don't like showing my messy hair. It makes me look like a cat that has been neglected by its owner. I also don’t feel confident to wear clothes that reveal my body. By wearing hijab I have at least solved one of my problems. So it’s not based on a religious reason, being a hijabi just suits me better appearance-wise.

Some of my closest friends and relatives might be so disappointed with my decision to liberate myself, to admit that I'm not sure of the existence of God, to not be attached to a religion, and to become more open-minded towards differences.

Some religious women will judge my reason for being a hijabi as sinful and a disgrace. Some people might call me an insane infidel who needs to be exorcised. But I don’t need to justify myself to them.  Because I want to be as free and liberated as I can be.

Anggi is a 19-year-old girl who is peacefully staying in Purwokerto. She is currently struggling to gain her bachelor degree.